OSH Tower Waste Is Tragic

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Since I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought of it, I will only take part of the blame for the tragic waste that is the pile of rubble in some landfill near Oshkosh that was once the air traffic control tower at Wittman Regional Airport.

Oh, by the way, I'm not one of those who thought the tower should stay as some kind of hostel or offices or anything like that. It had served well for decades but outlived its usefulness for the two weeks that is so important to the airport. The new tower is a beautiful tribute by the FAA to the importance of AirVenture and it was undoubtedly needed.

No, I was 100 percent behind the absolute pulverization of the iconic building.

What I hate is that it was hauled to the dump like last week's trash. With only a tiny amount of imagination, something even I can muster, that building would have been a fundraising gold mine. How much would you pay for a souvenir brick? How about incorporating one of those giant pieces of glass into your house to frame your favorite view? Who knows what was left behind by the FAA that could have been a funky piece of memorabilia for someone for a good price?

And where could all this money have gone? How about Alan Henley's family? The family of leader of the Aeroshell team, injured in an accident at home last year, could certainly use it. EAA has plenty of good places it could go, like Young Eagles programs. Scholarships, grants to aviation projects, the list is long and important.

EAA Communications Director Dick Knapinski will vouch that I mentioned the idea more than a year ago when the new tower was nearing completion. I suggested a joint promotion that I'm convinced would have had people lining up for bricks and other pieces of the tower and he agreed. He told me at last year's AirVenture that the contractor that built the new tower, and assumed ownership of the old one, was not interested in making the demolition material available. EAA asked and was turned down.

I'm sure there were liability concerns, money issues and any number of things that modern, efficient companies have to consider before they make a move. I can hardly blame them but I also think that the special nature of this building and the opportunity its demise represented could have resulted in a wonderful recycling project that would have benefitted thousands. I also think it could have been done safely and in a way that didn't cost the contractor a dime.

And I'm sorry I didn't press harder to make it happen.

Comments (6)

There was a lot of asbestos in the old tower.

http://airventuresiteupdate.blogspot.com/2009/04/end-of-towering-era.html

Posted by: Adam Smith | April 19, 2009 5:19 PM    Report this comment

Perhaps the cost of recovery was deemed excessive?

Posted by: Carl Willis | April 20, 2009 7:38 AM    Report this comment

How about base material for a taxiway?

Posted by: Edward Jeffko | April 20, 2009 10:06 AM    Report this comment

Russ, I asked Tom Poberezny at AirVenture the same question. He stated the amount of asbestos, as Adam said above, made the recovery financially unfeasible. The cost of separating asbestos from usable materials these days is astronomical, so I don't doubt him a bit. Yes, it's a shame, but what can you do? I worked there for 5 years and would have liked to have had a piece of it as well. Dave Slosson

Posted by: David Slosson | April 20, 2009 10:37 AM    Report this comment

Why give money to Alan Henley? While his freak accident was tragic, it had absolutely nothing to do with aviation, EAA or Oshkosh. He, as the income provider to his family, had an obligation to make sure they were financially secure if something like this happend (purchase disabilty insurance?). I have an A&P/IA friend who was paralized and almost burned to death as a passenger in the well publicised Tri-Motor crash over 4 years ago. What did he get? $100,000, the policy limit of the aircraft owner's insurance and a $60,000 settlement from the neglegent pilot. His total medical bill now stands at over 5 million dollars...

Posted by: KRIS LARSON | April 23, 2009 2:01 PM    Report this comment

Why give more money to Alan Henley? While his freak accident was tragic, it had absolutely nothing to do with aviation, EAA or Oshkosh. If you're looking for a worthy aviation tragedy, how about Tony Albanese? Tony is an A&P/IA who was paralyzed and almost burned to death as a passenger in the well publicized Tri-Motor crash over 4 years ago. What did he get? $100,000, the policy limit of the aircraft owner's insurance and a $60,000 settlement from the negligent pilot. His total medical bill now stands at over 5 million dollars... www.FriendsofTony.com

Posted by: KRIS LARSON | April 23, 2009 2:09 PM    Report this comment

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